In a press release Monday, the Association of Surfing Professionals announced the addition of a 12th Men's World Tour stop in Tavarua, Fiji, starting in 2012: the Volcom Fiji Pro. The event will most likely be held in June, a month that currently has no World Tour events slated. Though Tavarua was a major component in the ASP's "Dream Tour" marketing of the early 2000s, the small South Pacific island fell off the schedule after 2008, when Globe withdrew their support of the event.
While Volcom is no stranger to hosting competition (for years they've run national and international contest series for surfers of all ages, as well as the annual 5-star Volcom Pipeline Pro), the three-year commitment to operating the Fiji Pro will be the company's first foray into running a World Tour event.
"An event in Fiji is a massive undertaking, both financially and logistically," warns Dave Prodan of the ASP. "But the elements came together with our new partner, Volcom, and their commitment to the location speaks to our core values of placing the world's best surfers in the world's best waves."
"We started talking to the ASP about this a while ago," says Volcom's VP of Surf Marketing, Brad Dougherty. "It seemed like most everyone wanted the event back so we pursued it. We love the concept of the Dream Tour, so it just made so much sense to host an event in world-class waves. We have been going to Fiji for nearly 20 years and are continually reminded of how amazing of a place it truly is."
In a year that's seen the ASP and its partner brands replace the dreaminess of far-off tropical islands with the beachbreaks of domestic urban population centers (the Quiksilver Pro New York is slated for September and Rip Curl's "The Search" at San Francisco's Ocean Beach will take place in early November), purists and goofyfooters will likely applaud the return to Tavarua, home of two of the best lefts on Earth: Restaurants and Cloudbreak.
When asked what he thinks about Tavarua's reappearance on the World Tour Schedule, outspoken World Tour vet and goofyfoot lobbyist Fred Patacchia replied, "I think it's about f–king time!"
"I think Owen Wright is the most well-rounded and focused goofy on Tour and our best chance at a goofy World Champ," Patacchia continued. "With the current schedule, I find it almost impossible for him or any other goofy to win a World Title. Hopefully, Owen proves me wrong. But, with Tavarua back, our chances are getting better. In a perfect world the schedule should have three right pointbreaks, three left pointbreaks, three sand bar setups, Pipeline, and Tahiti."
"I'm not sure how much the direction of the wave matters," Dougherty replied when asked if Volcom had consciously chosen a left to balance the schedule, "but it's interesting to look at it that way. I think that ultimately what the surfers want is to compete in really good waves. Of course, there are no guarantees when it comes to mother nature, but in Fiji we all know the potential. This decision to pick Fiji was easy. We have a great relationship with the people there and have a real connection to the islands. The place is just amazing, and there was no reason to consider doing it anywhere else."